6 Tips to Get Your Car Ready for Summer
You’ve heard of “Winterizing” your vehicle, but how about “Summerizing”? A lot is made about preparing a vehicle for winter roads, from snow tires to anti-freeze and a complete tune-up. However, vehicles deserve that type of attention year-round, especially as the seasons shift from the colder, rainier spring to the hotter, drier Summer.
Safe Summer driving is just as important as safe Winter driving. The first point of staying safe on the roads is making sure your vehicle is safe. Look over your vehicle and stay on top of any fixes or repairs you can do today. Here’s a quick six point checklist to get you started…
1. Check Your Cooling Systems
Overheating can be a big problem in the Summer. Plenty of vehicles break down because the cooling system isn’t working properly. Before you hit those hot Summer streets, make sure your vehicle has the right level of coolant and check to see if your radiator is in good working order. You may also want to consult a professional to check out more complex cooling systems, like belts, clamps and hoses.
Of course, there is one “cooling” component you can check yourself – the air conditioner. Turn it on! You may not have used it since last Summer, and simply running it will let you spot any foul odors, damaged components or other problems that you can fix now, before the hottest months set in.
In air conditioners in your car, there’s a gas called Freon, which is responsible for cooling the air. Over time, this is used up and will stop that nice cool air being so, erm, cool. Pep Boys offer a free check-up for your air conditioning and basic repairs cost less than $40. Believe me, when it gets 100 degrees outside, I would pay anything for a break from the humidity.
2. Change Your Oil
The recommended amount of time between oil changes is on the rise, with many vehicles able to go roughly 5,000 miles on conventional oil or upward of 7,500 miles on synthetic oil. However, the Summer months are when many drivers bring out their trailers, boats, luggage and other heavy baggage. This puts extra strain on a vehicle, which is why changing your oil is a smart choice before the Summer, whether or not you’ve hit your mileage cap.
3. Check Your Tires
Cold weather makes tires deflate, which is why your owner’s manual recommends more pressure in the winter. Warmer air makes tires do the opposite, though, which means the tire pressure you currently have could soon be too high for the temperature. This has a couple of negative effects:
- Uneven wear
- Possible damage
- Potential blow-outs
Therefore, you’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for the proper tire-PSI for Summer, and then inflate – or deflate – accordingly. Also, if you’re still running on Snow tires, now is the time to change over to Summer tires.
4. Clean Your Car: Inside & Out
You may be a serial car-washer, but many people overlook this important – yet simple – part of vehicle maintenance. The winter is rough on vehicles. Snow, road salt and dirt all build up on and under your vehicle. A good washing will remove all that and make everything shine. Not only that, but a clean car can even run better, if all that grime ended up all over the engine. It will definitely help you diagnose leaks or other problems.
It’s also a good excuse to clear out the inside of your car. Winter = hot coffee = spills, so make sure they’re all mopped out your car seats. Vacuum out all the dirt from your Winter boots, take out any excess Winter emergency gear and get ready for Summer road trips. A new air freshener? A pair of sunglasses? Maybe throw in an emergency beach towel for all those pool parties you’re going to.
5. Check or Change Your Battery
Many vehicles have batteries that can withstand the test of time, but it is always a good idea to check it over. Just last year, I had a flat battery despite buying a brand new car only 3 years prior. All my short trips to and from work hadn’t given it sufficient charge and next thing I know I’m stranded in the parking lot. Don’t think that just because your car is new you’re invincible: get it checked.
When you swap it out, be on the lookout for corrosion or leakage. You can also check the fluid levels – batteries use distilled water. If the water levels are low, you can top it off with distilled water to ensure everything stays working properly. While a dead battery is certainly a winter-weather nightmare, it can happen during the Summer too.
If you’re feeling like a model car owner, you could even take it to a local garage for a service. These days, many garages have low price deals on changing your oil, testing your air conditioning or rotating your tires. If you want something extra cheap, you can easily check your tire pressure at a local gas station or change your oil yourself.
6. Review Your Auto Insurance
While not directly a vehicle safety tip, the Summer is the perfect time to look over your auto insurance. Why? Because many people have a “set it and forget it” policy when it comes to insurance. They buy, and then they pay their monthly bill. However, things can change that could lead to you getting a better deal. You may have new discounts, or you could even want to switch providers altogether. So, use the Summer as some motivation to compare auto insurance quotes and see if you can save some money. Then, both your wallet and your vehicle will be protected.